How does a Murphy bed work? What’s the murphy bed mechanism?
Do you have limited space or a studio apartment? Would a bed that hides away provide you extra space to walk around and allow you to use your apartment space more efficiently? A murphy bed (also called a wall bed) may be perfect for your needs.
A murphy bed works by folding into a space in a wall or cabinet using a hinge when it isn’t being used. Bi-fold bookcase murphy beds work by flipping vertically into the wall with a bookcase to hide the bed. Flip-up desk murphy beds work by flipping open a desk when stowed in the vertical position.
Read on to find out how you can use your bed at night, then enjoy some much-needed space to move around, work, or play during the day.
What is a Murphy bed?
A murphy bed is built to fold up into a wall or into a closet. They are a convenient way to free up space in any room. You might use murphy beds in:
- A multi-purpose space. For example, a room that’s an office by day and a bedroom by night
- A studio apartment
- A minimalist home
- A mobile home
Learn more about murphy beds in this comprehensive murphy bed guide in addition to our article on Murphy bed pros and cons. You can also take a look at the murphy bed weight capacity guide to help you find the right one for your needs. Additionally, you may find our in-depth guide to Murphy bed mattresses, frames, and bedding, 5 Murphy beds for rooms with low ceilings, and 10 Murphy bed accessories and why you need them useful as well.
While a bed that can fold into the wall may be seen as a safety hazard, advances in technology have made murphy beds safe. Newer murphy beds work using locking mechanisms that prevent them from accidentally springing up.
Apart from that, modern wall beds are multi-functional and sleek. Many varieties come with shelves and drawers. This allows you to efficiently use the space in your apartment or room. Other space saving beds include platform beds, trundle beds, and loft beds / bunk beds.
You can find murphy beds that fold vertically as well as horizontally. Choose vertical wall beds if your space has high ceilings and enough floor room. Horizontal options are great for tight spaces and low ceilings.
Here are the most popular types of murphy beds:
Bi-fold Murphy bed
A bi-fold murphy bed unfurls from a cabinet. The folding doors of the cabinet open sideways and the bed is lowered. The bed comes with wood slats that support a mattress. The mattress can be up to 11 inches thick. When not in use, the bed is stored inside a cabinet and out of sight. See video below.
Flip-up desk murphy beds
With this option, you get a desk workspace during the day and a comfortable bed at night. You’ll find many versions of the flip-up desk murphy bed on the market. You can choose vertical or horizontal options.
Some varieties of flip up desk murphy beds even allow you to keep items undisturbed on the desk when you pull down the bed. Then, when you wake up, you can flip the bed back up and get straight to work.
For most flip up desk murphy beds, the desk retracts when you pull down the bed. You’ll have to set up your workspace again after you tuck away the bed. See video below.
Library Murphy bed
Library murphy beds are designed to be functional and attractive. They are a combination of sliding bookshelves and comfortable beds. You might have looked into the price of murphy beds and wondered 'why are murphy beds so expensive?', we do a break down in our article.
A library murphy bed is a great addition to a home office. You get a space for your books and other items, and a fold-out bed that can accommodate an 11-inch thick mattress.
Murphy bunk beds
Why get one wall bed, when you can get two and have even more sleeping space? A murphy bunk bed features two beds in one. With these hideaway bunk beds, you’ll truly maximize your space. They come in a wide variety of modern sleek designs and are a great addition to kids’ rooms. Your children will sleep comfortably at night and have lots of play space during the day.
Pet Murphy beds
Need a bed for your pet which stays out of sight when you don’t need it? Why not get a pet murphy bed? Since they are much smaller, most pet wall beds fold away to easily blend in with the rest of your furniture. Modern designs are made to give your furry friend a cozy place to sleep while also looking attractive when the bed is folded away.
Freestanding murphy bed
As the name implies, this bed requires no mounting on walls or floors. After use, you simply store it up against a wall. It is portable and great for people who move frequently.
- Bunk bed room dividers are a great way to make functional small rooms (an alternative to murphy beds)
How does a Murphy bed work?
Murphy beds have lift mechanisms that make them easy to lift and lower. These include both spring lifts as well as piston lifts as described in the next section. Children and seniors should be able to use them with little effort. Also, they come with instructions for installation and opening. Most murphy beds require professional installation.
Step-by-step procedure for pulling out a wall bed
- Grab the handle near the top of the bed
- Pull down the bed with a smooth motion
- Depending on the model, rotate or pull down the legs. This should happen when the bed is halfway down
- Lower the bed and set its legs on the floor
Pulling up the bed is as simple as following the steps above in reverse order. But ensure you carefully tuck in your sheets, blankets, and duvets. Ensure the bed’s legs are back to their closed position.
How to open a bi-fold murphy bed
A bi-fold wall bed is enclosed behind a cabinet. To use it, open the doors of the cabinet first. Depending on the model, the doors may slide or pivot out of the way. Pull down the bed and set it down per the step-by-step procedure above..
How to use a flip up desk bed
When you are ready to sleep, pull down the desk surface to activate the lift mechanism. The desk will flip over to reveal a mattress in a wood box. Depending on the design, the work surface may remain undisturbed or may retract.
What’s the Murphy bed mechanism?
Here are the most popular murphy and wall bed lift mechanisms:
Spring lift murphy bed mechanism
In this case, heavy-duty steel springs power the pulling down and the lifting up of the murphy bed. The springs are attached to the sides of the bed. A spring mechanism may have up to 9 springs on each side. The weight and size of the mattress determine the number of springs. When you install a spring lift mechanism, you have control over the amount of tension you want in the coils.
Some murphy beds that use springs need floor mounting. This makes the beds stable but unfortunately damages and scars the floor. So, if you are renting your home, be sure to check in with your landlord before you mount a bed on the floor.
To avoid sagging or becoming noisy, springs need to be retightened every few years and greased. Fortunately, many manufacturers of murphy beds with spring mechanisms usually provide a lifetime warranty. Ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to properly maintain your sprint lift murphy bed mechanism.
Piston murphy bed mechanism
Here, gas-pressurized pistons help to lower or lift the bed. You’ll find it easy to use the bed whether it’s a king-size or twin bed. This mechanism has fewer moving parts and takes up less space compared to other lift mechanisms. It’s quick to install and operates quietly. Plus, it’s not subject to sagging and metal fatigue.
Beds with piston mechanisms are mounted on walls. They are attached to studs in the wall. The entire piston mechanism is in the cabinetry. It has a strong locking system that stops the bed from accidentally unfolding. Unfortunately, pistons cannot be readjusted after the initial installation.
How does a murphy bed work in a camper or RV? Is it different?
A murphy bed works the same way in an RV/camper compared to standard murphy hideaway beds described above. It utilizes either a spring lift or piston mechanism at the hinge to fold into the wall or cabinet within the camper.
Since most RVs and mobile homes don’t have lots of space, murphy beds are an ideal solution to maximize space in your camper or RV during your adventures while also providing a sleeping area.
It’s possible to purchase a camper with a modern murphy bed or to install one retroactively. The bed should be designed to fit within the space of the RV. Before using the murphy bed, always ensure that your RV is level or you may risk putting undue strain on yourself or the murphy bed lift mechanism. .